In part One we discussed our favorite pre workouts supplements to get the body and nervous system jazzed up and ready to train.
In this instalment I'll be going over the best supplements and nutrients to consume during training that are going to...
1) Improve performance during the session
2) Reduce muscle breakdown and set the tone for recovery as early as possible.
3) Take advantage of the increased blood flow and nutrient uptake in muscle tissue and deliver the nutrients right where they need to go.
So diving right in, these are the supplements I'm going to cover
Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin
Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's)
Beta Alanine is an amino acid that is a precursor and one half of the dipeptide carnosine (the other half being histidine).
Beta alanine is the rate limiting ingredient in producing carnosine. So basically by taking beta alanine we are allowing more carnosine to be produced and stored in muscle tissue. This is where all the nice benefits of beta alanine come from.
Why not just take carnosine you might be asking? Well it seems taking beta alanine raises muscle carnosine levels better than taking straight carnosine. It also much cheaper as well.
How it Works
The benefits from taking beta alanine is achieved through increased levels of carnosine in the muscle. It boosts performance by increasing the buffering capacity of fatiguing by products produced by working muscles.
Which means your muscles can break down the lactate and hydrogen ions that cause fatigue quicker allowing you to pump out more reps.
To sum up the benefits of taking beta alanine
-Increases muscular carnosine levels
-Delays the onset of muscular fatigue
-Allows the muscles to perform more work which will lead to greater results
-Promotes pump and vasodilation as carnonise produces NO synthase, which are enzymes that are involved in the production of nitric oxide.
Doasge: Daily dosage is between 2 and 5 grams. If you take too much at once you will get a burning, tingling sensation on your skin called paresthesia.
Its not dangerous, but it is annoying. So it's best to use a dose just under the amount that will cause paresthesia. You can actually take beta alanine any time of the day as it is not timing dependant. But I like to take it during workout because
1 Its easier to chuck it in with the rest of my peri workout sups.
2 It ensures it gets into the muscle where I want it.
3 As I'm drinking it slowly during my workout over a 45 minute period I'm not slamming it in one go so I can have 5+ grams in there and still not get tingles. If i took 5 grams all in one go I probably would.
Citrulline is normally produced in the body in the urea cycle and as a by product of the bodies conversion of arginine into nitric oxide.
When citrulline is ingested it is turned into arginine in the kidneys and actually raises blood levels of arginine more effectively and for a longer duration than taking arginine directly. This raise in blood arginine levels leads to an increase in nitric oxide production. Which in turn increases vasodilation and blood flow to the muscles. Increasing the pump and delaying fatigue while training.
The increased citruline also speeds up the urea cycle, getting rid of ammonia which delays a drop in muscle pH. A drop in muscle pH means the muscle is getting more acidic and fatigue sets in.
Benefits of Citrulline
- Better pump and blood flow
- Increased elimination of ammonia
Which means fatigue is delayed and you can squeeze out more reps than you could normally.
Dosage for Citrulline malate is usually recommended at 6 to 8 grams an hour before exercise.
I'm pretty sure nearly everyone has heard of creatine at one point or another. Even if you've never worked out.
Creatine as a performance supplement that has been around for over 20 years. It is the most studied of any supplement and continues to be one of the most frequently used supplements in strength training and sports.
This by itself tells you that creatine is effective and also very safe.
What is Creatine and How does it work
For some reason many outside the industry seem to think its some kind of steroid like substance that can be dangerous. This could not be more wrong.
Creatine is actually a pseudo vitamin. Meaning that if we couldn't produce it ourselves it would be a vitamin that is essential to get from our diet. In rare cases of severe deficiency it can result in mental retardation. Thats how important this stuff is.
Creatine is produced in the body from the amino acids L-arginine L-glycine and L-methionine. From there it is stored in muscle tissue (and other cells in body as well) as phosphocreatine where it is ready to rapidly supply energy when needed. It is through this mechanism that it derives its benefits of increased strength and power.
Benefits of Creatine
-Increase in Strength and power via increased ATP production.
-Increase in intracellular water levels in muscle cells. Which could contribute to the increase in strength and power but also increase protein synthesis in and of it self. As cell swelling is a mechanism for hypertrophy.
-Neuroprotective to brain cells.
Type and Dosage
Don't bother with exotic types of creatine that are supposedly better absorbed like ethyl ester or kre-alkalyn. Creatine monohydrate is proven to work and be absorbed well and the other types are more expensive and sometimes do not work as well as good old monohydrate.
For dosage 3-5 grams a day will hit the spot for most people. If you haven't supplemented with creatine for a while you can front load it with 12 to 20g per day for a week then drop back to the maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams per day.
EAA's and BCAA's
BCAA's refer to the three branched chain amino acids - Leucine, isoleucine and valine.
EAA's are the nine essential amino acids that humans cannot produce and must be obtained from the diet which include the three branched chains plus another six (Histidine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan)
The three BCAA make up around 35% of the protein in muscle tissue and are the only amino acids that can be metabolised for energy. The more BCAA's that are present in muscle the more they will be used for energy slowing muscle breakdown and muscle loss
The main reasons to supplement with BCAA or EAA's during training is to
-Trigger muscle protein synthesis. This happens mainly via leucine as it activated the mTOR pathway which stimulates protein synthesis.
-Can increase fat loss and lean muscle gains. For example one study showed that trained men given 14g BCAA's daly for 8 weeks with a weight training routine lost more body fat (2.2% body fat lost) compared to another group that didn't take BCAA (1.2% body fat lost). They also gained more muscle 4.2kg increase in lean mass compared to 2.1kg of lean mass over the 8 weeks.
-Improved hormonal profile. Trainees taking BCAA's had higher testosterone and lower cortisol compared to those not taking BCAA
-Enhanced endurance performance and reduced fatigue through inhibiting tryptophan from entering the brain which is used to create serotonin. This halt on serotonin production is believed to reduced levels of fatigue.
-Reduce muscle soreness and DOMS
-Help glucose uptake and promote insulin production. both Leucine and isoleucine promote the uptake of glucose into muscle cells which is beneficial during exercises. Leucine also stimulates the production of insulin which also activates the mTOR pathway mentioned above and will inhibit muscle protein breakdown.
BCAA dosage 10 to 20 grams taken throughout training.
Since essential amino acids contain all the branched chain amino acids they offer all of the benefits offered above. It's not really that common to take EAA's during training like BCAA's are. But after learning from and reading the work of people like John meadows and Milos Sarcev I think EAA's can be beneficial to use over BCAA's during training especially when combined with highly branched cyclic dextrin.
While BCAA's stimulate muscle synthesis you still need other amino acids especially all the nine EEA's to build muscle tissue. With more advanced trainees and very intense training getting these amino's into muscle tissue with carbohydrates while training has shown to have dramatic effects on recovery from hard training and the ability to gain muscle tissue and get lean.
There is not much research on this but people who are at the top of the game and getting great results and I myself have seen a big difference doing this.
EAA dosage. 15 to 30 grams taken during the training session. Most essential amino acid supplements are around 50% branched chains. So 15 to 30g EAA will provide 7.5g to 15g of branched chain amino's in itself.
Highly Branched cyclic dextrin
1 A high osmolarity which means they exit the stomach very quickly. This is exactly what we want during training to avoid stomach upset.
2 A sustained release into the bloodstream once it hits the small intestine. This means you won't get a rapid spike in glucose and insulin like if you were consuming straight glucose. (we want to raise insulin but don't want to spike it sky high) This is better for body composition and sustained performance.
You should only have highly branched cyclic dextrin during training if you are lean enough and training very hard. If your just hitting the gym a few times a week or over 12% body fat for a guy and 16-18% for a female then its probably not for you.
Also it is not as necessary for strength based workouts. You are not using as much glycogen as a high volume bodybuilding workout. It can still be used and it will still help recovery, but the dose would be reduced.
I like to dose HBCD depending on the individual and workout. More muscle mass and bigger body parts mean a higher dose. But generally it will be between 20g and 70g a workout. So a big guy doing legs could take 70g. If he was doing arms it might only be 30g. For females between 20g and 40g would be a good amount.
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that carry an electric charge and produce an electrically conducting current when dissolved in water. They control water balance, blood acidity (pH), muscle contractions and a bunch of other vitally important functions.
The major electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, and hydrogen phosphate.
When it comes to training especially strength training or bodybuilding they are totally underrated. Electrolytes are what literally allows our muscles and heart to contract and relax as well as controlling the movement fluid into and out of cells.
If you're training for strength you need the strongest contraction you can get. If you're training for bodybuilding then you want that contraction as well as the all important pump and cell swelling which are somewhat electrolyte dependant as well.
I wouldn't be getting your electrolytes from gatorade. It's just sugar water with a bit of electrolytes added. You want a good quality, balanced electrolyte powder that can be added to the rest of your peri workout cocktail.
Look for one that has more potassium than sodium as in most peoples diets this ratio is skewed. It should also have magnesium, maybe calcium but its not necessary and some phosphorus (usually in the form of potassium phosphate.)
Dosage: Its hard to give an exact amount for dosage as it depends on how its formulated. But generally you are going to want 300mg to 600mg of electrolytes per serve.
Thats wraps up part 2 of the Peri workout supplementation series. This one ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. Just remember you probably don't need everything on here. Try a couple of nutrients, see how you respond. As always I recommend talking to someone who knows about these kind of peri workout supplements and sports nutrition to advise what is going to be best for you.
If you have any questions hit me up in the comments below